Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Raw, Raw, Michael Phelps!!!

These are the words I have been saying all week. I have been using phrases such as “the 200 meter butterfly” and dropping names such as Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin, and Kerri Walsh. This week is when my Input Strength comes in handy, because since Saturday I have had all sorts of Olympic trivia and facts being filed away in my brain and spewing out in such a way that even I am surprised. It is so strange because before Saturday I had never even heard of the people I just named! I am religiously watching NBC every night from 8 to midnight. Who knew I’d be so obsessed with the Olympics?
The only clue to even point to my new obsession was during the 1996 Olympics when I became obsessed with the American Dream Team for gymnastics and began reading everything about Kerri Strug. However, all other years of the Olympics I really didn’t care at all, until now.
It has been a fun week. I can see why everyone seems to love the Olympics. It is such a unifying event, which is sort of ironic considering it is a competition of gigantic proportions. But it sparks such a sense of nationalism, which I think is refreshing given the day to day politics of everyone’s countries and all of the conflict between nations. People ignore that during the Olympics. This is especially noticeable to me this year because of the fact that we are in China, a nation that generally has very opposite practices and beliefs than the United States. They are a nation known for ignoring human rights, are pro-censorship, and an incredibly sexist country. Instead of focusing on all of that the Olymics make us think in a “glass half full” state of mind. We all are instead reminded of how similar people all over the world are at the core. We all have passion, talent, play the same sports, jump up and down when we are excited, and get angry when we are upset about losing. The Olympics reminds everyone what we have in common and that the world isn’t so big after all. It is a really beautiful and positive thing.
I am loving the swimming and am trying to get into the women’s gymnastics and I am starting to really enjoy women’s beach volleyball as well. I am so blown away by the amount of focus these athletes have and their discipline and ability to put passion into practice. And I really do believe these athletes have passion for what they do, because I don’t think you could put yourself through so much pressure and discipline and lack of a life for something and still be so successful if you didn’t actually love what you do. The love for the sport is what makes these athletes stand out and win. Michael Phelps must love swimming, because I really believe that if he didn’t then no amount of pressure or intimidation by others (parents and coaches, etc) could make a person win so many gold medals. Talent may be given at birth and practice does make perfect, but passion is what sets apart the good and the inspiring, the winners and fourth place. The athlete has to want it themselves, or they wouldn’t have qualified for the Olympics. That is passion.
"If you enjoy every moment at the pool, you're bound -- you're guaranteed -- to train your best and swim your best." ~Michael Phelps

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